But I've been back in California, with Doug, for the past two weeks as we have tackled the Herculean task of getting my parents' house emptied and ready to put on the market. It's summer in Palm Springs which means temperatures are well over 100°F and moving, clearing, and boxing stuff up isn't the most enjoyable activity. But alas, with Doug's good work ethic and the help of some of the guys my dad was close to, we got it done. We had a sale last Saturday and the thrift store guy came and picked up the rest yesterday. What an odd feeling to be alone in their empty house. In some ways, it helps me to see that it's a structure not a home, a place with memories for sure, but memories that I can carry with me even though the place no longer remains mine. What is very strange is that all these things, all the stuff that filled their house and sheds and closets, was now mine to deal with. It no longer held any value or meaning for my mom and dad. And while some of it is meaningful to me, a lot of it was just stuff they had that they didn't know what to do with, so they put it in the shed. Now, these goods are in our house, sold to strangers, or being sold at the Revivals thrift shops in Palm Springs. The proceeds of those stores benefit the desert AIDS project and I think my folks would be happy to support that.
We ended up with so much trash as well...we accumulate trash because we don't how to dispose of it or we feel ambivalent about getting rid of it. We think we should sell it, or wonder if we will use it again, or if it could be of use to another person...sometimes maybe, other times, not. This is but a mere fraction of the trash we hauled away!
What is probably the single most profound aspect of losing someone is that all communication is finished. There are no more chances for conversation, opinions, or questions. So on the day of the sale I was thinking about so many different things that I wanted to ask them. I wanted a back story on some of the stuff...I wanted to know why they had so many dishes, why they kept so much unused kitchen stuff, why they had a gazillion still in the original packaging picture frames!
I did find some pretty cool items that I will tuck away and decide about down the road. One of the greatest was this plate that my maternal grandmother painted for my parents when they got married. I found another one that said it was a blue ribbon winner at the county fair! I never even knew my grandmother painted!
And then I wanted to tell them that Adrian and Gabe, two of the Mexican guys my dad was close to, helped us haul stuff and that Adrian wanted the portrait that Dennis had painted of them. I wanted them to know that Arcella, the woman who cleaned for them, stopped by with two of her kids, and was moved by seeing this household, that she had cleaned, now stacked on tables ready to be moved along. Her 9 year old daughter Samantha took the crazy purple hat that mom had in her closet, Mariano, their son, took the desk lamp and some playing cards, and they bought the TV that was in your bedroom. And Arcella said she wanted to come back and clean the place one more time. It was a great gift for me that day to have people from their park stop in, admire the beauty of their home, and speak kind, kind words about my parents. I will have to wander through the park sometime and see if I can spot the various "treasures" that are now gracing another's home. And soon, the home itself will be on the market and I am hoping and praying that a truly wonderful retired pair will see its value and move in and enjoy it every bit as much as my parents have through these years.
Yes...as I seek to move through my grief and accept the reality that my parents are no longer here, I feel both sadness and relief. My memories are sharpened and enhanced by the reality that now there are no new memories...only the ones we have made. And I'm thankful that for the most part, mine are all pretty wonderful.